People in Arizona are uniting with lawmakers to counter attempts by the infamous Westboro Baptist Church to get attention for their anti-abortion views by picketing the funeral of 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green and others killed in Saturday’s mass shooting.
One group plans for an “an ‘angel action’ — with 8- by 10-foot ‘angel wings’ worn by participants and used to shield mourners from pickets,” CNN reported.
“For something like this to happen in Tucson was a really big shock to us all,” Tucson resident Christin Gilmer told CNN. “Our nightmare happened when we saw Westboro Baptist Church was going to picket the funerals.”
Gilmer is one of 42 people who have signed onto the “Build Angel Wings for the Westboro Funeral Counter-Protest and Meeting” Facebook page.
Another Facebook page, “Show Support for the Families of the Tucson Shooting Victims,” has 4,500 members.
The Arizona legislature is also planning to introduce legislation to protect the victims’ families from the protesters.
“We’re going to try to protect the families from undue harassment,” Rep. Daniel Patterson (D) told Talking Points Memo.
Arizona House Democratic Caucus aide Sara Muench said that the legislation would be modeled after laws in other states designed to protect funerals.
“It’s definitely going to happen,” she said. “Hopefully this week.”
Westboro Baptist Church is known for picking the funerals of people who died of AIDS, gay people and soldiers. They often hold signs that say “God Hates Fags,” and “Thank God for IEDs.”
A flyer posted on the church’s website Sunday read, “THANK GOD FOR THE SHOOTER — 6 DEAD!”
“God appointed this rod for your sins! God sent the shooter!” the flyer continued. “This hateful nation unleashed violent veterans on the servants of God at WBC–hoping to silence our kind warning to obey God and flee the wrath to come.”
The church added that it “prays for your destruction” regularly.
A federal appeals court ruled last year that picketing funerals amounted to free speech and was protected by the Constitution. The Supreme Court is now considering an appeal of that ruling, filed by the father of a dead Marine.